A 17-year-old adolescent girl was sentenced to eight months in prison in one of the summary trials taking place in Cuba about recent anti-government protests, her mother and a legal support center reported.
Gabriela Zequeira received her prison sentence on Thursday after being tried for about six hours for “public disorder” along with 11 other defendants, said her mother Yoanis Hernández, who witnessed the trial.
She added that she does not know where her daughter was transferred after the trial, which in his opinion was carried out without presenting evidence that Zequeira had participated in the July 11 demonstrations, the largest in Cuba in several decades.
“When the trial was over, it was three minutes that they let me see her. The only thing I could do was hug her and kiss her, nothing else,” Hernández told BBC.
“She told me: ‘Mommy, stand up, nothing is going to happen to me but I am going to appeal.’ She is aware that she did nothing,” he continued.
Cubalex, an independent group of Cuban lawyers that follows arrests and summary trials on the island for the protests, confirmed that Zequeira was convicted by a court.
BBC tried to obtain information about this case from the Cuban government, but that was not possible until the publication of this article.
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez denied on Thursday that minors are imprisoned or missing in the country, and assured that “all Cuban legal guarantees” are met for those who remain under arrest.
“I am devastated”
The recent wave of arrests and summary trials in Cuba has been criticized by different governments and international organizations.
The Cuban Observatory for Human Rights reported on Friday that it has documented the arrest or disappearance of at least 757 people due to the protests, 13 of them minors.
Hernández affirmed that his daughter, an accounting student, was detained in the municipality of San Miguel del Padrón in Havana when she was going to a hairdresser, saw a demonstration in the distance and decided to return, according to the minor in her own trial.
He specified that Zequeira was arrested by “black wasps”, as members of the Special National Brigade of the Cuban government are known in Cuba, which this week was sanctioned by the United States for “repressing” protesters.
“One took her arm, the other by the neck, they pulled her by the hair and put her inside the truck,” Hernández said.
He added that since then he has not been able to see or speak with his daughter until Thursday’s trial, about which he was only informed on Tuesday night.
He reported that he got a lawyer for his daughter in a few hours, but that some of the defendants who were tried together with Zequeira in the Diez de Octubre Court lacked legal representatives.
Hernández pointed out that in addition to her daughter that day, another 17-year-old adolescent was tried and sentenced to one year in prison “for recording” the protests.
Unicef, contacted days ago by BBC to find out its opinion on the arrests of minors during the protests in Cuba, indicated that it is “difficult to quantify the exact number of children detained”.
“Cuban criminal law establishes that only those over 16 years of age are imputable and recognizes a differentiated treatment to the commissioner of a criminal act who is between the ages of 18 and 20,” the statement said.
Hernández demanded that his daughter be released because “Tremendous injustice has been committed” with her.
“I am devastated, a piece of me has been taken from me,” she said. “I don’t sleep, I don’t eat thinking about her: what is she doing? What are they doing to her?”